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Neighborhoods Pushing Low-Rise Pumps at Lake
A coalition of at least a dozen neighborhood associations is promoting the idea of using low-rise pumps along the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals — instead of the massive, possibly 90-feet-tall pumps reportedly envisioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the area's new flood protection plan. The neighborhood associations — including those representing Lakeview, Broadmoor, Lake Vista, Dillard, Lake Terrace, Bucktown, Mid-City, Lakeshore, Oak Park, Lake Oaks, Gentilly and Pontilly — will hold a forum on low-rise concrete volute pumps at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the St. Dominic School gymnasium (6300 block of Vicksburg Street in Lakeview). Guest speakers include Shawn Stevenson, an engineer with KSB-USA Inc., a manufacturer of one type of concrete volute pump, and several design experts from Holland and Germany, where the low-rise pumps are in widespread use. "Our associations want the best and safest pumps to be used in the planned new pumping stations and want to be certain all alternatives are considered," says Al Petrie, president of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association. Petrie adds that the groups have invited members of the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish councils, area lawmakers, and representatives of the Corps of Engineers and the Sewerage and Water Board to attend. Several sources in the neighborhood groups say the Corps of Engineers is resisting the idea of low-rise pumps, but no one has been able to explain why. A flier promoting the forum says low-rise pumps are lighter, take up a smaller footprint, are far lower in height, have much less impact on green spaces and sight lines, put no grease or oil into area waters when in use (in contrast to the five pounds of grease per pump from traditional pumps), cost far less to build and maintain, and are more efficient hydraulically than traditional pumps. — DuBos


My (GOP) Space
If MySpace and Facebook don't lean right enough for you, there's always, aka the Louisiana Republican Network. It's a new social networking site where Republican activists can interact and dish on the latest political issues. Members can connect with like-minded GOP enthusiasts by creating their own profiles, starting their own blogs and commenting on others' blogs. The site is the brainchild of Charlie Davis, who was recently hired by the Louisiana Republican Party as director of Victory 2008, the party's federal campaign arm. As of last week, there were 170 members, ranging from Michael Eby of Plaquemine, an aide to former U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, to Matt Parker, executive director of the state party. There's a public forum (no real activity yet) and discussion groups based around Republican candidates (John McCain for President has the most members with 25; John Kennedy for U.S. Senate trails with 24 members). Also on the site is a section for pictures (nameless faces posing with famous GOP dignitaries) and videos (mostly campaign commercials). It's one of the many technological upgrades the party is expected to enjoy thanks to Davis, who also serves as president of Liquid Ventures, a business incubation and consulting firm that houses Prodigy Sports Group,, Varsity Vests and GatorWorks Web Design. Davis served previously as finance director and political director for the Louisiana Republican Party during the 1990s. — Alford


Endorsements Roll In
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat, has been grabbing headlines with major endorsements recently. Not to be outdone, state Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican from Madisonville, received his fair share of media attention last week when First Lady Laura Bush joined him at a fundraiser in Lafayette. The $1,000-a-person meet-and-greet was held at the home of local real estate developer Will Mills. Photo ops with Mrs. Bush cost $2,500. Landrieu has garnered some big local endorsements recently, including that of the Louisiana Sheriff's Association. Although the sheriffs traditionally back Democrats — with the notable exception of GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal — LSA executive director Harold "Hal" Turner says seniority pushed Landrieu over the top. "With the loss of other senior members of our Louisiana delegation this year, now, more than ever, we need Sen. Landrieu's experience and seniority," Turner says. Leonardo Alcivar, Kennedy's communications director, says last week's LSA endorsement was "meaningless," given the historical leanings of the LSA. Meanwhile, Landrieu was also endorsed last week by a PAC of 15 farmers representing various sectors of the agriculture industry. — Alford


Lake Borgne Work Funded
The Orleans Land Bridge Project is just one of the many coastal resources in Louisiana now reaping the benefits of a new federal grant program. The Coastal Impact Assistance Program, also known as CIAP, distributes $250 million annually to six eligible offshore oil- and gas-producing states, including Louisiana. The money is intended to help minimize the effects of oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf. Most recently, the state was allocated $1.3 million to complete part of the Orleans Land Bridge Shoreline Protection and Marsh Creation Project, which will build approximately 50,000 feet of rock breakwater along the Lake Borgne shoreline between Bayou Bienvenue and Alligator Point in hopes of reducing the erosion rate in the area. "This is good news for the state, good news for the city, and good news for the country," says Tim Doody, president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. "This is a portion of the plan that will create a safer and higher bridge, out of harm's way." In particular, the federal government wants CIAP to complement ongoing restoration activities in local communities and, where possible, hurricane protection projects. Louisiana's overall CIAP plan was approved last year. — Alford


Casper Moves to Regents
Meg Casper
, best known in the Capital Region for her education reporting at Baton Rouge's WAFB-TV and later as the public information officer for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, is returning to full-time work in the capital, heading back into the belly of state government. After serving six years as the face and voice of the Louisiana Department of Education, Casper jumped over to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she has been employed for the last year as the marketing director of the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development. Before Picard passed away in early 2007, Casper was his press secretary at the Education Department and one of his closest advisors. The Lafayette move was a good match, as it provided Casper with an opportunity to continue Picard's vision. But, back in Baton Rouge, Casper's institutional knowledge was still needed. That's why the Board of Regents reached out to her last week and offered her the position of communications director. The state board, created in 1974, is responsible for coordinating all public higher education in Louisiana. As for Casper, she says she's ready for a new challenge in a familiar setting: "My goal will be to work closely with the staff as well as members of the Board of Regents to effectively communicate all of our higher education programs and policies, and I welcome that opportunity." — Alford


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